In early August, an international group of abortion advocates met in Uruguay to discuss the potential removal of conscience protections for healthcare providers with regard to abortion.
Religious freedom is an obstacle to women’s health, according to conference organizer International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC). The group encourages advocates to ensure “that professional bodies recognize that personal beliefs can seriously undermine the provision of women-centered, professional health services.” . . . [Full Text]
The Act legalizing abortion in Uruguay, passed in the fall of 2012, includes two protection of conscience provisions.
Section 10 provides protection for existing health care institutions that are part of the National Integrated Health System if they had ideological objections to abortion at the time the law was enacted. They are not required to provide abortion, but “may” reach an agreement with the Ministry of Public Health to arrange for their patients to have abortions elsewhere. If “may” is understood to mean that such arrangements are optional, institutional freedom of conscience will not be compromised. However, it appears that all hospitals that are part of the National Integrated Health System that are opened from this point on will be required to provide abortions.
Section 11 allows conscientious objection by health care workers, but this is limited by the meaning given to “health” in Section 6A.
[Protection of concience provisions: Spanish/English]
Nearly one hundred doctors in Uruguay filed a lawsuit on Dec. 7, arguing that the country’s new abortion norms to not allow for conscientious objection.
According to the newspaper El Observador, the doctors state that because they are directly responsible for implementing and administering the regulations, they feel obliged to denounce “several grave illegalities” they contain.
Read On: Uruguayan doctors say abortion norms fail to respect conscience rights :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).